The crisis in the All Progressives Congress (APC) deepened on Saturday as the local government congresses were characterised by protests and the election of parallel executives by different factions of the ruling party in many states.
Some of the affected states include Lagos, Adamawa, Sokoto, Rivers, Oyo, Enugu, Bayelsa, Abia, Ekiti, Ogun, Kwara, Niger, Imo, Akwa Ibom, among others.
Despite an order of a Delta State High Court restraining the party from organising the LG congresses in the state, a faction of the party led by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, organised the exercise which the deputy senate president described as peaceful.
Two factions of the APC also held parallel congresses in some local government areas in Oyo State.
The LG congresses did not hold in Anambra, Kaduna and Zamfara.
The national leadership of the APC had exempted the Anambra State chapter of the party from the congresses to allow the party to prepare very well for the forthcoming governorship election, billed to hold on November 6.
Kaduna State did not hold the congresses because of the LG elections that took place in the state.
The internal crisis within the party and insecurity prevented Saturday’s exercise in Zamfara State
A Delta State High Court sitting in Asaba had on Wednesday restrained the National Chairman of the Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the APC and Governor of Yobe State, Mr. Mai Mala Buni, from conducting the LG congresses in the state.
While the faction of the party in the state led by Omo-Agege, insisted that the congresses took place yesterday, the other faction of the party, which parades APC chieftains like Chief Great Ogboru, Hon Festus Keyamo, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, Chief Victor Ochei, and Mrs. Mariam Alli insisted that the congresses did not hold because of the subsisting court order.
However, a statement by the Chairman, Delta State Local Government Congress Committee, Mr. Matthew Omegara, said that the party was aware of the court ruling, but that the court order only barred the State Chairman of the party, Prophet Jones Erue, from conducting the congresses and not the party officials from the national headquarters.
Meanwhile, Omo-Agege last night hailed the conduct of the party’s local government congresses in the state, saying they were peaceful and satisfactory.
Omegara also agreed with Omo-Agege that the exercise was peaceful, adding that INEC and armed security personnel witnessed the exercise.
In Akwa Ibom State, supporters of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, and the National Secretary, APC Caretaker Committee, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, held parallel congresses in the 31 LGAs of the state.
Akpanudoedehe controls the state chapter of the party.
Some members of the party who spoke to journalists on the condition of anonymity said materials for the congresses were hijacked and taken to unknown places where the elections congresses allegedly took place.
The spokesperson of APC in the state, Nkereuwem Enyongekere, said the congress was generally peaceful across the state.
In Sokoto State, THISDAY gathered that two LG executives emerged from the parallel congresses held.
A leader of one faction and member of the House of Representatives representing Gwadabawa/Illela Federal Constituency, Hon. Balarabe Salame told THISDAY that the faction followed the party’s guidelines by obtaining the forms and electing its executives at wards and local governments’ levels.
He further disclosed that “the other faction just stayed in somebody’s room and write the names of their executives.”
“As I’m telling you, what they did in the other faction is undemocratic; you can’t deny people of their right to express their franchise,” he added.
Salame and the Speaker of the state house of assembly, Hon. Muhammad Aminu Achida, belongs to one faction, while the former governor of the state, Senator Aliyu Wamakko, and the Minister of Police Affairs, Mr. Maigari Dingyadi belong to another faction led by Wamakko.
Addressing the delegates and members of the party in Bodinga, the headquarters of Bodinga Local Government Area of the state, the police minister said the party in the state in its wisdom adopted consensus.
The APC congresses were marred by the crisis in Adamawa State as aggrieved party members from Yola North and Yola South LGAs faulted the distribution of election materials to members who were not supposed to handle the materials.
Chairman of the Congress Committee, Professor Umar Katsayal, and his committee members narrowly escaped an attack by irate youths when they were about to leave the party’s secretariat.
The youths stormed the party’s secretariat in their numbers demanding election materials for their zones.
The senator representing Adamawa Central, Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed Binani also stormed the party secretariat to kick against the process.
THISDAY gathered that journalists (cameramen) were forced to delete the visuals of the fracas at the party secretariat.
In Mubi North and other local governments in the state, some APC stakeholders organised their own separate local government congress in their preferred venues.
The crisis in the Ogun State chapter of the party deepened Saturday as the group loyal to Governor Dapo Abiodun and a faction of the party led by Senator Ibikunle Amosun held parallel congresses across the 20 local government areas of the state.
Before Saturday’s congresses, the two factions of the APC had sworn in the elected executives that emerged from the parallel ward congresses they held in July.
On the eve of yesterday’s congresses, the seven-man congress committee led by Mr. Wale Ohu had cautioned the APC members in the state against holding parallel congresses.
Addressing journalists after the conduct of the congresses, Ohu emphasised that any congress held outside the supervision of the committee was null and void.
While a faction of the party in Ekiti State called Southwest Agenda for Tinubu 2023 presidential poll (SWAGA) had challenged the previous ward congresses, the Ekiti State APC insisted that the local government congresses were undertaken without violating the constitution of the party and the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Secretary of the Ekiti State APC Congress Committee, Mr. Job Femi Akindeke, said the unconfirmed report that SWAGA went to court to challenge the ward congress did not vitiate the outcome of the local government congresses.
“Let me tell you that there wasn’t any legal encumbrance to our local government congress. We followed the due process of the law,” he said.
“We appeal to our people to exhaust internal mechanisms before resorting to court. The process is still ongoing and the party has not received any court order stopping us from doing what the party is constitutionally empowered to do,” he explained.
The Rivers State chapter of the APC led by the Minister of Transportation also yesterday held what it described as peaceful local government congresses across the 23 LGAs of the state.
The congresses were boycotted by the supporters of a former Senator representing Rivers East, Senator Magnus Abe.
However, the spokesman of the caretaker committee of the party in the state, Chief Ogbonna Nwuke, told THISDAY that the election was peaceful and smooth, adding that the party was now positioned to take over power in the state.
But a leader of Abe’s faction, who spoke off record, said they boycotted the exercise because it did not follow due process. The faction had rejected the ward congresses of APC held in the state.
The faction had also submitted a petition to the national secretariat of the party on the development.
In Niger State, the consensus option adopted by the APC to choose its local government officials hit the rocks in some parts of the state following the insistence by aspirants for election to be held.
The consensus arrangement was challenged in Chanchaga, Paikoro, Bida Lapai Agaie, among other LGAs.
Despite the emergence of two factions of the party in Enugu State, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama has hailed what he described as the peaceful conduct of the local government congresses in the state.
Onyeama disclosed this in the Udi Local Government Area of the state while briefing journalists on the outcome of the exercise in his council.
The minister described the process as democracy-in-action, adding that the people were allowed to willingly choose their leaders.
However, supporters of the Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr. Osita Okechukwu, did not participate in the exercise held by Onyeama’s faction.
Meanwhile, former Senate President, Dr. Ken Nnamani, has described as fake, a letter purportedly issued by the national leadership of the party, recognising Mr. Ben Nwoye as the state party chairman.
Nnamani spoke during the congress in Nkanu West Local Government Area of the state.
He said that the letter which was circulating in the social media and purportedly issued by the Secretary, APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Senator John Akpanudoedehe was forged.
In Imo State, the congresses were conducted by supporters of Governor Hope Uzodimma without the participation of Senator Rochas Okorocha and Senator Ifeanyi Araraume’s camps.
Imo State Chairman of the APC loyal to Governor Uzodimma, Chief Marcillinus Nlemigbo, said the exercise was free and fair.
The two APC factions in Lagos State also held parallel local government congresses across the 245 wards of the 20 local government areas of the state.
The two congresses were held without any violence as the factions comprising the Tunde Balogun-led group and the Lagos4Lagos group held their separate local government congresses in different venues.
On the side of the Balogun-led faction, a former member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Ahmed Ipoola Omisore said the Lagos chapter is returning the party to the people at the grassroots.
In Agege Local Government Area, the Vice-Chairman, Apex Committee, Lagos4Lagos, Hon. Prince Sunday Ajayi said his group remains the only faction of the Lagos APC that upholds the party’s constitution in the conduct of the congresses.
“We are two factions in Lagos but Lagos4Lagos is the only faction of the APC that conducted the ward congress. The other side only paraded appointed candidates but we own the population of the party.
“For instance, they held local government election; Lagos APC registered 2.5 million members but less than 500,000 members voted as a result of our boycotting the election. We have over 2 million members in Lagos state and that is why the national body cannot close its eyes to us,” he added.
Two factions of the party in Osun State led by Governor Gboyega Oyetola and the Minister of Interior, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, also battled each other in the state.
The exercise was marred by the crisis in Ede North LGA as armed political hoodlums reportedly attacked members of the party who were holding their congress in the area.
The thugs, according to eyewitnesses, stormed Film House, NITEL area, beside Pere Police Station, Ede, with guns, cutlasses, and other weapons with which they attacked members of the APC.
A former Chairman of Ede North Local Council Development Area, Mukaila Uthman, confirmed the attack, saying that he was a witness.
Officers of the Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Services (DSS), and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) witnessed the congress which was held at Oduduwa College Ile-Ife in Ife Central LGA.
The majority of the APC members that participated in the exercise were members of The Osun Progressives (TOP), loyal to Aregbesola
The state Commissioner for Information and Civic Orientation, Mrs. Funke Egbemode, however, stated that the crisis rocking the state chapter of APC is an internal affair that will soon be settled amicably.
In Kwara State, the APC faction, which is loyal to Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq adopted consensus for its local government congresses of the party.
The faction loyal to the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed was not part of the arrangement.
In Bayelsa State, a faction of the party held congresses despite a court order that restrained the party from holding congresses in the state.
While the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, was reportedly absent due to official commitment out the country, the Vice Chairman, South-south Zone of the APC Caretaker/Extra ordinary Convention Planning Committee, Chief David Lyon, was seen at party secretariat in Yenagoa at the end of the exercise.
However, Sunday Frank-Oputu, a chieftain of the APC and member of the faction led by Hon. Ebierien Fala, faulted the conduct of the congress, describing it as a violation of a subsisting court order before the State High Court and Court of Appeal, sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Frank-Oputu called on the party leadership to sanction Sylva and the caretaker State Secretary of the party, Alabo Martins over conduct of the congresses against subsisting court order.
In Abia State, two factions loyal to the state Chairman of the party, Chief Donatus Nwankpa, and Chief Ikechi Emenike, held parallel congresses but the Local Government Congress Committee led by Hon. Israel Goli only supervised the congress conducted by the faction loyal to Emenike.